Venezuela

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Payments

In Venezuela, for online and mobile payments, the most commonly used currency is the Venezuelan Bolívar.[1]

Domestic and Preferred Card Schemes

All major global credit cards. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, etc.[2]

Consumer Credit Market

Credit card value continues driving consumer lending in spite of falling value In 2015, the value of credit card purchases falls for a second consecutive year, signalling that Venezuelan consumers might be reaching high levels of outstanding debt that could be compromising their cash flows. During 2014, the market remains concentrated as four banks accounted for 71% of credit card value share. The fall in total value during 2014 can be explained by an important change in the composition of the credit card spending. Something worth noting is the sharp fall of internet purchases and purchases of services by travel agencies and airlines that pushed this category of spending from sixth position in 2013 to eighth in 2014. Banco de Venezuela changes the open loop pre-paid cards market Banco de Venezuela is a strong competitor in the Venezuelan financial market because it can potentially manage the food and other benefits received by a large majority of the government’s payroll of approximately 2.5 million civil servants. In a strategic move –that was likely prompted by an apparent unstable supply of plastics– Banco de Venezuela has started to link the food benefits’ individual accounts, which used to be associated to an open-loop card, to existing debit cards when the beneficiary already owns such a card with the bank. In this way, the bank continues providing the service without issuing a new card, lowering costs and increasing convenience.

Increasing risk of collapse of the consumer credit market With no changes on the upper and lower bounds of the interest rate allowed to be charged by issuers in more than four years, the real interest rate on credit card purchases is becoming more negative as inflation accelerates. Since 2013, Venezuelan consumers have found that financing consumption using credit cards might be advantageous to them as inflation erodes the value of outstanding card lending balances. However, if macroeconomic conditions do not improve, the combination of high inflation, lagging salaries and unemployment sets a risky scenario that could result in the collapse of the consumer credit market over the forecast period. [3]

Alternative Payment Methods

Bank transfer is the preferred method of payment for online purchases in a wide variety of countries. Countries vary widely in technical sophistication of their set-up.[4]

Other Payment Methods

Boku, DaoPay, Mopay, Moneygram, PayPal, Skrill, Western Union, BitCoin, Pagos Online.[5]

Digital Invoicing

TBD

Customer Experience

Customer Behavior

In Venezuela, the adverse economic situation and restrictive regulations have negatively impacted the development of online retail, but new regulatory initiatives could reverse the trend and increase online shopping to the relatively large population. [6]

Payments Regulation

CENCOEX reduced the already small limit on currency conversions for overseas online credit card purchases from $400 to $300 per year per individual, further limiting Venezuelan users’ impact on the market. As of 2015 only GBRV owned banks are authorized to disburse hard currency; this has limited the beneficiaries to the absolute minimum since not all Venezuelans hold accounts at these banks. During 2016, allocations have stalled. [7]

Local entities

Citibank is the only U.S. universal bank with a presence in Venezuela.[8]

Mobile payments

Local e-commerce purchases are most often settled by non-electronic means (bank deposit, checks, and cash). Barriers for e-commerce growth include relatively low credit card usage, exchange controls, and relatively low (but increasing) Internet usage.[9]

Logistics

Telecommunication services such as phone, fax and high speed internet connection are widely spread throughout the country. [10]

There are no import, export, or domestic shipping services for DHL or FedEx in Venezuela. UPS provides import and export shipping, and Ipostel provides a domestic shipping solution.[11]

Infrastructure

The most important mode of domestic cargo and passenger transport is shipping over the country's more than 16,000 km (9,900 mi) of navigable inland waterways, of which 7,100 km (4,410 mi) are navigable to oceangoing vessels. A large percentage of Venezuelan tonnage is carried by ships of the government-owned Venezuelan Navigation Co. Highway and railroad construction is both costly and dangerous because of the rough mountainous terrain in the areas of dense population. Nevertheless, the government has undertaken massive highway construction projects throughout the country.

Venezuela's two railroads carry mostly freight. Rail transportation is concentrated in the northern states of Lara, Miranda, Carabobo, Aragua, and Yaracuy, with branches connecting the principal seaports with the important cities of the central highlands.

Cities and towns of the remote regions are linked principally by air transportation. [12]

In addition, every major international courier companies serve Venezuela, including, Fedex, UPS and DHL. Local private courier services are also available. [13]

Import Duties

Import duties are calculated on the Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) value of the shipment. Venezuela has been a WTO member since 1995 – its harmonized tariff schedule can be seen here. Venezuela became the fifth full member of MERCOSUR at the July 2012 summit in Rio de Janeiro and will assume the presidency in 2016. Venezuela had four years from its date of accession to adopt the MERCOSUR Common External Tariff (CET) and to provide duty-free treatment to its four partners on all goods, with sensitive products allowed a two-year extension. On April 1, 2014, Venezuela adopted phase-two of the CET for 21 percent of the goods in its tariff schedule. It was scheduled to adopt the CET for an additional 14 percent of products on April 1, 2015; however, no formal announcement of the tariff change was made. The CET were to have been adopted for the remaining 37 percent of products on April 1, 2016. Exceptions to the CET exist on a product-specific or sector-specific basis, mainly for goods not produced within the union or those that potentially affect the production capacity of the members. Due to the lack of official government information and access, there is no list of these exceptions. Venezuela has not yet fulfilled most of its obligations within MERCOSUR.

Customs authorities will accept the value of the shipment that is indicated on shipping documents such as the bill of lading, but GBRV regulations allow customs to reference a base price for some products, such as textiles, to determine customs value. Under-invoicing can result in heavy fines to the importer as well as forfeiture of the goods in question. In Venezuela, over-invoicing is more common due to the multiple exchange rate system and excessive delays in obtaining foreign exchange for imports. Exporters should be aware that over-invoicing is illegal under Venezuelan law and exporters should not cooperate with such attempts by importers since detection could jeopardize the company’s receivable and endanger future exports to Venezuela.[14]

Marketing

Direct marketing is common in Venezuela. Marketing through TV commercials, newspaper inserts, home visits, or street vendors is widespread. Mail advertising has been almost nonexistent due to postal system difficulties, but the Sunday press is commonly used for advertisements. Online marketing has been limited due to the country’s economic problems, as internet speeds remain some of the slowest in Latin America and consumers have limited opportunities to buy new technology, including smart phones, tablets, and computers. [15]

Shoppers

Quality is an important aspect to take into account when considering the Venezuelan market. In the higher market segments, Venezuelan customers have a taste for high-end products. UK-made products in general enjoy a good reputation for quality and reliability.[16]

Social Media

Due to economic troubles and shortages in Venezuela, Venezuelans began using social media for everyday necessities, which is possibly one of the reasons Venezuela is one of the most active internet countries in Latin America. Venezuelans have used notice boards and Twitter feeds to find and barter for scarce products. Custom made apps have also been created to assist Venezuelans find goods and medicines affected by shortages in the country. Some have also turned toward social media to in order to find reliable news due to government censorship.[17]

Major shopping categories

TBD

Major retail holidays

TBD

Legal / Regulatory

The quintessential source of Venezuelan legislation (in the widest sense of the word) is the Official Gazette (Gaceta Oficial) published since 1872. Regular issues are released daily (except Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays). Special issues (including long statutes or regulations, codes, supreme tribunal decisions, etc.) are released sporadically. Laws do NOT have reference numbers.

The best private compilation of laws and decrees is the Ramírez & Garay Legal Gazette (Gaceta Legal Ramírez y Garay) published since 1958.

State laws are published in the Gacetas Oficiales (Official Gazettes) of those entities, and municipal ordinances are published in the respective Gacetas Municipales (Municipal Gazettes). [18]

FX Policies

Currency exchange is controlled by the Government. According to the limitations set forth in this matter, the Venezuelan Central Bank has the exclusive right to perform currency exchange activities through its authorized dealers (Banks and other financial institutions). The Exchange rate is fixed by the government. The Currency Administration Commission (CADIVI) is the governmental office in charge of administering the exchange control regime. Currency exchange activities performed outside the authorized financial institutions are strictly forbidden and penalized. The Law on Foreign Exchange Crimes establishes several requirements for business transactions in foreign currency and penalizes foreign exchange transactions that violate the exchange control regime, the purchase of foreign currency under false pretences and the use of foreign currency purchased from the Central Bank for purposes different from those that induced the acquisition request and authorization. This Law also imposes criminal sanctions on those who publicly or privately offer goods and services nominated in foreign currency, in contravention to the applicable laws .[19]

Technology

Technology is improving banking services in Venezuela Since the successful completion of the migration of ATM terminals and POS to the smart chip platform at the end of 2011 and the complete replacement of plastics by mid-2012, the use of debit and credit cards has been very safe in Venezuela. Banks continue focusing on technological changes, leaning towards self-service, multi-function ATMs and mobile banking. Erratic supply of security paper for cheques, plastic cards and paper for ATMs and POS is changing the way financial companies are delivering information and opening new electronic channels to customers that are encouraging a technological leap from paper to mobile, without intermediate steps. [20]

Security

TBD

Mobile appetite

Mobile penetration in Venezuela is below average for South America, while growth in the sector has been set back by the ongoing economic recession. The number of mobile subscribers fell 4.7% in the year to December 2015, in line with the fall in fixed-line and Internet subscriptions as customers scale back their spending on services.[21]

References

  1. Saltado "Payment methods in Venezuela"
  2. Saltado "Payment methods in Venezuela"
  3. Euromonitor. "Financial Cards and Payments in Venezuela"
  4. Saltado "Payment methods in Venezuela"
  5. Saltado "Payment methods in Venezuela"
  6. PRNewswire. "Latin America B2C ECommerce Market."
  7. export.gov "Venezuela Country Commercial Guide"
  8. export.gov "Venezuela Country Guide"
  9. export.gov "Venezuela Country Guide"
  10. Encyclopedia.com "Venezuela."
  11. Saltado "Shipping in Venezuela"
  12. Encyclopedia.com "Venezuela."
  13. Lex Mundi. "Guide to Doing Business - Venezuela."
  14. export.gov "Venezuela Country Guide"
  15. export.gov "Venezuela Country Commercial Guide"
  16. Doing Business Guide "Doing Business in Venezuela"
  17. Financial Times "Social media offers salve for Venezuela’s pain"
  18. NYU Law Global. "Venezuela"
  19. Lex Mundi. "Guide to Doing Business - Venezuela."
  20. Euromonitor. "Financial Cards and Payments in Venezuela"
  21. Internet World Stats "Venezuela Internet Usage and Market Reports"